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Does convergence spell doom for digital audio players? Maybe not.

June 24, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

Technology convergence: when multiple products come together to form one product with the advantages of all of them. - Definition from a poorly-written Wikipedia article.

Zunerama member typoink offers some musings today on "why I don't think convergence devices will destroy dedicated DAPs".

That's DAP as in Digital Audio Player. Here are some excerpts from Typoink's post:

"First, let me note the PDA (personal digital assistant) phone issue that often gets mentioned here. PDA phones destroyed standalone PDAs almost entirely. Because of this, many assume that DAP phones will destroy standalone DAPs.

"I don't think it's quite the same thing. PDA phones took over because the two devices are logically convergent. Whenever you want to have your PDA, you want to have your phone and vice-versa. PDAs are basically schedule and contact organizers, and phones benefit from contact lists.

"Phone/PDA convergence made sense because converging these devices results in a device that's (theoretically, at least) better at the individual tasks than the separate devices -- the PDA half greatly benefits from live web and email access, and the phone half benefits from the detailed contact management. Neither half is hindered by being attached to the other.

"I don't see DAP phones having that type of convergence. How does the DAP functionality help the phone? It really doesn't, aside from allowing MP3 ringtones. How does the phone functionality help the DAP? It enables live store access, but I think it's arguable how significant a feature that is.

"The only substantial advantage of DAP phones is that they turn two devices into one. It saves space, and it lets users make one purchase instead of two (which is significant, since both phones and high-end DAPs can be substantial purchases).

"But that comes with disadvantages..." Read on for more.

Graphic credit:

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cucusoft graphic

Canadians giving Zune a warm reception

June 21, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

Our northernly neighbors seem to be giving Zune a fair shake - with respectful reviews like this one from the Sudbury Sentinel.

Excerpt: Though I own a couple flavours of iPod, the Zune is my current go-to media player because I appreciate the wireless sync feature, the FM radio and the no-brainer software.

It's not the sexiest device out there -- that title belongs to the iPod Touch, for which there's no Zune equivalent -- but it does what it does well and I find it easier to navigate through my tunes and videos using Zune's touch-sensitive thumbpad than the iPod's iconic wheel.

The author's sentiments are pretty typical from what I've seen from a half-dozen or so news articles from Canadian media outlets. I think Microsoft did well by waiting until its second-generation before releasing Zune beyond the United States.

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Zune games keep rolling out

June 19, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

Repeater Zune Game screenshot

We have the pleasant burden of keeping up with a steady stream of new Zune games! Thanks to Microsoft's free release of Game Studio 3.0, we are seeing many games appearing, from experienced game creators as well as new XNA developers.

In the former category would be Zunerama member SimReality, who has posted his third Zune game to our directory.

This game is inspired by the classic Simon matching game. I can remember as a child lugging around that large flying-saucer-shaped piece of electronics and playing it with my brothers and sisters. It was, at that time, a wonder of modern technology.

Nice to see this offering from SimReality! You can see it in our Zune Games Directory, which also has links to the download page and to user ratings and reviews.

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Zune DVD tutorial

Winner of Incipio Kickstand case

June 18, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

It's a good day for stowman2, who just won our latest Zunerama accessory giveaway. He gets an Incipio Kickstand case for his Zune 80GB. Congrats, and check your email!

Speaking of giveaways, we are two weeks out from giving away a Zune 8GB. Don't miss this one - it even comes bundled with a Speck Tough-Skin case.

If you're not signed up yet, you can enter here. Good luck to you!

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Link directly to Marketplace content

June 17, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

Now there's an easy way to create a link (on a web page or a forum post, for example) to specific content in Zune Marketplace.

Using Microsoft's Zune Links page, you can get URLs to specific Marketplace music tracks and other content.

The site lets you search for a specific album or artist, for example, and it gives you the HTML code to display a small graphic that links directly to that content. You can select code to link directly to ZMP, or to the content in Zune Social (which does not require Zune software to be installed).

Here's an example link I created, for the Zune Social page of the album "Once":

...and here's a link right to it in Zune Marketplace. (You have to have Zune software installed for this link to work:)

You can create links for artists, albums, playlists, music videos, podcasts, or videos. Thanks to Cesar of ZuneInsider for the tip!

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Playlists for Slideshow Music

June 16, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

I enjoy viewing photo slideshows of my family on my Zune, and with Zune software on my PC. I also use Pinnacle Studio software to create DVD slideshows that recap our family's past year.

Three keys to making an interesting slideshow:

  1. Keep the slides moving. I often use three seconds per picture, and rarely go beyond four seconds.
  2. Keep transitions simple. Fancy transitions are tempting but distracting. I prefer a simple dissolve between pictures.
  3. Play background music. A well-chosen track can add a lot of emotional energy to an otherwise routine set of photos.

For that last point, I maintain a playlist just for Slideshow Music. I use this playlist when I'm viewing personal photos on my Zune.

You can see the whole playlist here. Some are a little schmaltzy, but I like 'em.

What other slideshow tracks would you recommend?

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Zune accessory giveaways

Watch a Zune game developer at work

June 14, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

If you're curious about game development, check out the videos of SimReality - he's been recording his progress in creating a first-person shooter for Zune.

They are fascinating to watch. How often do you get a chance to peek over the shoulder of a creative genius at work?

To see earlier versions of the game in development, hit the Comments link below.

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Another Zunerama member wins a Zune player

June 13, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

Thanks to everyone who posted photos in our Zune gallery contest.

Today, we're awarding a black 30GB Zune player to pixelsyndicate. Congratulations!

See more goodies up for grabs (including a Zune 8GB with Tough-Skin case) in our giveaways board.

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Zune launches in Canada

June 13, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

19 months after Zune's U.S. debut, it has finally launched outside the United States. Today, Zune becomes available in Canada - including a new batch of Canadian-designed Zune Originals.

In recognition of this day, my fellow Zune MVP (and Canadian tech blogger) Jason Dunn of Zune Thoughts is giving away a customized flash Zune player. C heck that out!

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iHome ZN9 Zune clock radio - see the video

June 12, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

We've had lots of interest in our review of iHome's clock radio for Zune. To help answer some of those questions, we've assembled the video below. Click below for a closer look at the world's first Zune clock radio!

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Big day tomorrow

June 12, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

Actually, today is a big day, as my twin daughters are celebrating their birthdays. I gave them each a mummy-style sleeping bag - we are planning some backpack camping this summer which will be a new experience for them.

But Friday is also a big day in Zunerama-land, for two reasons:

1. Tomorrow afternoon we give away a black 30GB Zune to one of our members. (Enter here!)

2. Zune launches in the first country outside of the U.S. Welcome, Canadians!!

There is at least one giveaway celebration being kicked off tomorrow. I'll give you more details in the morning.

As we said long ago, "It's about time for Zune with a ZED!"

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Zune DVD tutorial

iHome ZN9: Zunerama review and pix!

June 11, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

zune graphic

Today we received a review model of the iHome ZN9 - the world's first Zune clock, which will be released in July.

At $99, the ZN9 packs a full set of features, and works well with all Zune player models.

Check out our photo review!

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Zune Summer Fun: win a Zune 8GB with a Speck Tough-Skin

June 10, 2008 | by Harvey Chute

School's out, and - even though my northwest thermometer is jammed at about 50 degrees - my calendar is telling me that summer is on the way.

And what better way to kick off your summer, than by winning a Zune 8GB - color of your choice - along with a matching Tough-Skin case from Speck.

All you have to do is post in this thread about your fun summer plans, and in a few days we'll draw a random winner.

It doesn't get any easier than that.

It pays to be a member of Zunerama... as of this week, we've given away 242 Zune players and accessories to our members. Join our forums!

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